Friday, May 02, 2008

Mini-Interview: The Black Kites

Online dictionary Wikipedia says that dream pop came about when bands like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance “began fusing post-punk experiments with bittersweet pop melodies into sensual, sonically-ambitious soundscapes” and that its focus is “on ethereal textures and moods, rather than on propulsive rock riffs.”

And though that description's a bit monocle-twirly, it’s probably a bit smarter than the “overwhelmingly fuzzy, wistful, and often sad” line I was working on, so let’s go with it...

We recently spoke to LA’s modern day purveyors of this sound, The Black Kites, about their secret past and upcoming plans. But first, let's take a look at their video for their song Paper Heart, which made its online debut just today.

RFSL (2:02:29 PM): Hey!
Nicki (2:03:32 PM): Hello!
Evelyn (2:03:38 PM): Hello
Nicki (2:03:46 PM): How's it going?
RFSL (2:04:06 PM): Going well. Trying to un-hangover from the wrap party for my game last night.
RFSL (2:04:15 PM): Largely successful!
Nicki (2:04:21 PM): Great! Where was it at?
RFSL (2:05:16 PM): It was at The House of the Blues in one of the back rooms. You wouldn't think a party for a Wii puzzle game would be too much of a rager, but... tequila.
Nicki (2:05:46 PM): Haha.. That’s awesome. A Wii puzzle game?? I can’t wait!
Nicki (2:06:03 PM): I’m really into Smash Bros..
Evelyn (2:06:19 PM): I heard it's a great game.
RFSL (2:06:31 PM): Lemme dig up a quick link...
RFSL (2:06:32 PM): How are you guys today?
Nicki (2:06:43 PM): We're great, we just played a live acoustic set over at killradio. lots of fun
RFSL (2:06:45 PM): Oh, that's great.
RFSL (2:06:43 PM): Who's show was it at killradio?
Nicki (2:07:11 PM): It was on "is good" with Jon hershfield. He's a great guy.
Nicki (2:07:21 PM): I think it should be archived tonight. [Editor's note: It is right here.]
RFSL (2:07:35 PM): Oh, cool. That guy does great stuff.
Nicki (2:08:25 PM): Yeah, Jon is awesome. he has tons of great bands on his show. It was fun because we had to learn to play our songs acoustically.
RFSL (2:08:26 PM): What work do you guys do?
Evelyn (2:09:03 PM): We work on commercials
Nicki (2:09:03 PM): Alan, me and Evelyn work together on commercials in the art dept. We're building a shipwreck today!
RFSL (2:09:53 PM): Wow. That's pretty great.
RFSL (2:10:02 PM): How did you all meet and start playing together?
Evelyn (2:10:38 PM): I'll let Nikki explain since I came in later in the game.
Alan (2:10:54 PM): Nicki and I were in a band together called, Cinders. Evelyn and Nicki had another band called together, Nevers. Nicki got us all together.
Alan (2:11:03 PM): That was about two years ago.
Evelyn (2:11:08 PM): One big happy family
Alan (2:11:30 PM): Marcel, our drummer, joined around January of last year.
RFSL (2:12:41 PM): How are The Black Kites different from your old bands?
Alan (2:12:50 PM): We changed the name because there was a band called, Cinder, that was on Geffen. I'd never heard of them, none of us had, but before it became a prob we changed it.
Evelyn (2:13:07 PM): Now there are keys and no drum machines.
Nicki (2:13:37 PM): Well, Cinders was me and Alan on guitar and bass with some old ass drum machines we had to reprogram between each song.
Nicki (2:13:48 PM): It was nuts.
RFSL (2:14:04 PM): Ha.
Evelyn (2:14:19 PM): Alan also had long hair. That was insane.
Nicki (2:14:19 PM): But fun. But we needed an upgrade and Evelyn came along right at the perfect time. Completely changed the sound. For the better! Thank god.
RFSL (2:14:54 PM): Ahh. What's the name from? Is it from the medium-sized bird of prey (thank you google) or the movie based on the 1992 journals of visual artist Alma Hajric or do you just like black kites?
Nicki (2:15:00 PM): And the Nevers are really just a little side project Evelyn and myself and my friend David do. We make tracks on garage band and do nothing with them. But it's always a good time.
RFSL (2:15:09 PM): Ah, cool.
Nicki (2:16:18 PM): Hah.. Alan really likes the bird and its Australian connection. We also like the image of a black kite in the sky. And there’s an electrical connection. Thank you, Ben Franklin.
Nicki (2:16:45 PM): Alan was also born in Australia, so that’s why it means something to him.
Nicki (2:17:27 PM): I think we need to check out that movie.
RFSL (2:17:45 PM): Yeah, me too.
RFSL (2:18:35 PM): So I know this is a painful question, but how would you describe your music?
Alan (2:19:12 PM): Well, the kids down the hall from us in the rehearsal space say we're dream pop.
RFSL (2:19:14 PM): There's something on your myspace page to the effect of "songs that could make a sad person dance."
Evelyn (2:19:16 PM): I think a fan put it best "Pink Floyd on Speed."
Evelyn (2:19:28 PM): Sounds about right.
Alan (2:19:44 PM): I agree!
Evelyn (2:19:46 PM): Hopefully cry as well.
Nicki (2:20:24 PM): So to sum up, we're dream pop you can dance and cry to if you're on speed and like the Floyd
RFSL (2:20:34 PM): Ha ha.
Evelyn (2:20:35 PM): Exactly
RFSL (2:20:08 PM): Your influences are pretty varied... Velvet Underground, Jesus & Mary Chain, Birthday Party, and Black Sabbath.
Alan (2:20:36 PM): We love all those bands. At least I do.
Alan (2:20:50 PM): Especially black Sabbath
RFSL (2:21:00 PM): I love early Black Sabbath...
Evelyn (2:21:06 PM): Me not so much except for the Velvets and the Chains
Evelyn (2:21:40 PM): They were a great inspiration for The Cardigans as well
Nicki (2:21:41 PM): We all are influenced by many different bands, so that helps a lot with what we bring to the writing process
Evelyn (2:21:54 PM): Word.
Nicki (2:22:22 PM): Alan is stuck in the 70's most of the time
RFSL (2:22:15 PM): Cool. How did your EPs come together? When did you record them?
Nicki (2:22:55 PM): We work with a really really great producer/engineer named Will Kennedy.
Nicki (2:23:31 PM): He has recorded and produced our last two EPs, he kind of fell into our lap by luck and we plan to work with him on upcoming album
Evelyn (2:24:19 PM): It's great when a producer gets your sound and pushes you beyond what you thought you’re capable of
Nicki (2:24:32 PM): The All Wrong EP was recorded in the summer of 06. And Paper Heart EP was recorded summer 07. And we are finally planning on having a full length out at the end of this year. we're really excited about our new songs
Evelyn (2:24:36 PM): Will did that for me especially while recording vox.
RFSL (2:25:22 PM): That's great. When are you guys recording? You're working on writing new songs now?
Alan (2:26:04 PM): We plan to record the album late summer/early fall. and yeah, we're writing new stuff now. since the beginning of the year
Alan (2:26:24 PM): And I think I speak for the whole band when I say it's going famously
Evelyn (2:26:47 PM): We've been trying some of the new stuff live
RFSL (2:26:51 PM): Excellent. Glad to hear it. How is it different from the EPs?
Evelyn (2:27:17 PM): More I think it's just becoming a bigger sound
RFSL (2:27:25 PM): Heh.
Alan (2:27:30 PM): I agree with Evy.
Alan (2:27:52 PM): Also, I think we have a better sense of how to arrange the parts we want to maximize them in the songs.
RFSL (2:27:43 PM): You guys just finished a video for Paper Heart.
Nicki (2:28:24 PM): It involves Evelyn taking flight!
RFSL (2:28:37 PM): Like in Superman?
Evelyn (2:28:52 PM): More like Wings of Desire.
RFSL (2:29:00 PM): Ah, even better.
Evelyn (2:28:40 PM): I have wings in it and everything.
Nicki (2:28:41 PM): And snow!
Nicki (2:29:31 PM): It was directed by Michael Grodner. He's done stuff with Kill Me Tomorrow and some other really good bands. he's a great guy. We had a blast.
Nicki (2:29:40 PM): Sooo much work to make a video though. phew
RFSL (2:29:39 PM): Since you do commercial work, did you have a hand in the video's creation?
Evelyn (2:29:48 PM): Yes.
Nicki (2:30:02 PM): Well, we were the entire art dept.
Evelyn (2:30:20 PM): We were in charge of purchasing x-mas lights, candles, etc.
Nicki (2:30:42 PM): Michael was really great about working with us on the concept. we were able to get our two cents and collaborate on the idea for it.
Evelyn (2:30:46 PM): Thank you, 99 Cent Store.
Evelyn (2:31:47 PM): It was my first experience working with a goth camera crew. It was amazing.
RFSL (2:32:07 PM): Wait. What's a goth camera crew like?
Evelyn (2:32:52 PM): They were great.
Nicki (2:32:57 PM): Haha. Well, they were amazing. We felt right at home.
Evelyn (2:33:27 PM): How they worked those long hours in make-up and creepers was inspiring.
RFSL (2:33:41 PM): It must be hot filming outdoors in LA wearing all black.
Alan (2:33:42 PM): They put us to shame.
Nicki (2:34:00 PM): Maybe that’s why they made us do a night shoot!
RFSL (2:34:10 PM): !
Nicki (2:34:15 PM): It all makes sense!
Nicki (2:34:30 PM): I heard someone on the crew saying BYOB: bring your own blood.
Evelyn (2:35:03 PM): Nikki refused to wear make-up so it wasn't as sticky for her as it was for me.
Evelyn (2:35:06 PM): lol
Alan (2:35:08 PM): In all seriousness, Justin, the director of photography, was really great and inventive. Super nice guy.
RFSL (2:35:16 PM): You guys have some goth leanings yourself, right? I mean you have the Sisters of Mercy cover.
Evelyn (2:35:24 PM): Guilty
Alan (2:35:28 PM): Oh, yeah. We can't help ourselves.
Evelyn (2:35:28 PM): As charged.
Alan (2:35:53 PM): Spiritual kinship.
Evelyn (2:36:02 PM): If Alan’s stuck in the 70's, I’m stuck in the 80's.
RFSL (2:35:56 PM): I almost got a Sisters of Mercy tattoo in college.
Nicki (2:36:03 PM): YOU WIN!
RFSL (2:36:05 PM): Gotta love those guys.
Alan (2:36:21 PM): So do we. I hope they like our cover!!!
Alan (2:37:02 PM): We've been flirting with the idea of ripping off Peter Murphy and letting Evelyn enter the stage hanging upside down.
RFSL (2:31:39 PM): Heh. So, what's next for you? You're playing at one of Mezzanine Owls' free residency nights at Spaceland next month, right?
RFSL (2:31:39 PM): That’s going to be fun. Mez Owls are great live.
Evelyn (2:37:10 PM): They're amazing.
Alan (2:37:18 PM): That will be a GREAT show.
Alan (2:37:24 PM): We're very excited for it.
Alan (2:37:58 PM): Btw, before I forget, we want to say how much we dig radiofreesiverlake. And we're not just kissing your ass.
RFSL (2:38:09 PM): Thanks!
RFSL (2:38:18 PM): What else is coming up for you guys?
Evelyn (2:38:34 PM): Writing... Lots and lots of writing getting ready to go in the studio
Nicki (2:38:43 PM): Hmm well just writing and playing more live shows. Hopefully out of town, so start getting ourselves out there a bit more.
RFSL (2:39:22 PM): Have you guys gotten to tour out of town much?
Evelyn (2:39:42 PM): A little we just got back from San Francisco
Nicki (2:39:49 PM): Well, we did phoenix (my hometown) last year or so, which was basically a show for my friends. But about a month ago we played SF with Loquat.
RFSL (2:40:08 PM): That's great.
Nicki (2:40:09 PM): It was so wonderful. SF is a great place to play
Evelyn (2:40:11 PM): We had a great turnout one of the best shows we've played yet
RFSL (2:40:17 PM): Where was it at?
Nicki (2:40:42 PM): We hit up Napa valley on our in and managed to get in heavy rotation at Goosecross Cellars. Haha. That’s how we roll
Nicki (2:40:48 PM): We played at Cafe Du Nord.
RFSL (2:41:14 PM): Ah, that place is great. It's like a smokey little bar w/o the smoke.
Nicki (2:41:22 PM): Exactly
Nicki (2:41:30 PM): Our goal is to get sponsored by a winery.
Alan (2:41:47 PM): It'll save us a lot of dough
Evelyn (2:41:54 PM): Mos def.
Nicki (2:41:59 PM): Cafe Du Nord is awesome. Such nice people. Good sound.
RFSL (2:42:06 PM): I would like to get the site sponsored by Cazadores' tequila.
Nicki (2:42:16 PM): Now you’re talkin!
Nicki (2:42:29 PM): Radiofreesilverlake brought to you by Cazadores.
RFSL (2:42:51 PM): I figure it already is brought together by Cazadores. We should make the relationship official.
Nicki (2:43:01 PM): Exactly. This is how we feel about Syrah.
RFSL (2:43:05 PM): Well, I don't want to keep you guys too long. Just one more question to wrap it all up... What are you listening to these days?
Evelyn (2:43:31 PM): Phosphorescent. Album Leaf
Evelyn (2:43:52 PM): This Will Destroy You.
Alan (2:43:55 PM): Well, I love the new death cab single that 8 minutes or so. And The Stones' Some Girls album.
Nicki (2:44:56 PM): I really like that new Foals album. the new Hot Chip is pretty great too. And Loquat is always on my ipod at some point throughout the day
RFSL (2:45:30 PM): Excellent. That's all I've got. Thanks so much for your time!
Evelyn (2:45:45 PM): My pleasure, Thanks for having us.
Nicki & Alan (2:45:47 PM): Thank you so much, Joe!!


Blogger L. Hunter said...

I laughed pretty hard at 'monocle-twirly' haha.

8:48 PM  

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